Nauvoo Expositor 1844
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- Joseph Smith, Mormon, LDS, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Expositor, Nauvoo, William Law
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Subject: Sexual Obsession of Joseph Smith
Like Warren Jeffs, Joseph Smith engaged in sex with underage girls (despite what mormons dependent on FAIR propaganda peddling may wish to believe--and as proven by Mormon history itself). Smith's Well-Earned Reputation for Being a Sex-Obsessed, Self-Possessed Philanderer has followed him beyond his own desire to be seen as a “Prophet, Seer and Revelator.
As a baseline (and as known in Mormon circles of his day), Smith was legendary for his sexual attraction to women.
In fact, the official LDS publication, “History of the Church” (vol. 5, p. 53), acknowledged the lore of Smith's attraction to females, as described in 'The Wasp,” a LDS newspaper published in Nauvoo, Illinois:
“[On 2 July 1843], the [Mormon] Church newspaper 'The Wasp' published a phrenology chart of Smith's head and personality. The first trait [was] 'Amativeness-11, Large. Extreme susceptibility; passionately fond of the company of the other sex.' The official 'History of the Church' still publishes this chart, along with the caution that such a high score indicates 'extreme liability to perversion' in the trait.” Perversion is right.
Smith's moves to seduce other men's wives were so brazen and notorious that they led one distraught husband--Orson Pratt--to attempt suicide in Nauvoo on 15 July 1842:
“Thousands of Nauvoo Mormons search[ed] for Orson Pratt after discovering a suicide note. They find him distraught because Smith, according to Pratt's wife, had tried to seduce Pratt's wife Sarah.”
Not only did Smith have a reputation as a ladies' man, he also had a record of defending friends of his who were sleeping around.
According to the “Minutes of the High Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Nauvoo Illinois” (6 February 1841), Smith directed “the Nauvoo high council not to excommunicate Theodore Turley for 'sleeping with two females,' requiring him only to confess 'that he had acted unwisely, unjustly, imprudently, and unbecoming.'”
Eventually, Smith's sexual excess caught up with him in court. On 23 March 1844, William Law filed suit against Smith for committing adultery with Smith's foster daughter and plural wife:
“William Law file[d] a formal complaint with the Hancock County [Illinois] circuit court charging Smith was living 'in an open state of adultery' with Maria Lawrence, Smith's foster daughter and polygamous wife. Maria Lawrence was a teenaged orphan who was living in the Smith household. In fact, Smith had secretly married both Maria, age 19, and her sister Sarah, age 17, on 11 May 1843 and was serving as executor of their $8,000 estate.
"William Law apparently hoped that disclosing Smith's relationship with the young girls might lead him to abandon polygamy but Smith immediately excommunicated Law, had himself appointed the girls' legal guardian and rejected the charge in front of a church congregation on 26 May 1844, denying that he had more than one wife.”(Joseph Smith, “History of the Church,” vol. 6, p. 403; and Richard S. Van Wagoner, “Mormon Polygamy: A History,” p. 66)
(all preceding and subsequent citations and quotes are found in “Joseph Smith's Polygamy Chronology,” at: http://www.i4m.com/think/polygamy/JS_Polygamy_Timeline.htm)
*Smith and 16-year-old Fanny Alger
Smith's first known sexual affair was with a teenager named Fannie Alger, who was living with Smith and his first wife Emma in their Kirtland, Ohio, home. Fanny was also Smith's first confirmed plural wife. Smith “came to know [her] in Kirtland during early 1833 when she, at the age of 16, stayed at his home as a housemaid. Described as 'a very nice and comfy young woman,' according to Benjamin Johnson, Fanny lived with the Smith family from 1833 to 1836.”
Fanny eventually became the target of Smith's sexual advances, with Smith's predatory behavior soon becoming the talk of the town:
“Martin Harris, one of the 'Three Witnesses' to the Book of Mormon, recalled that the prophet's 'servant girl' claimed he had made 'improper proposals to her, which created quite a talk amongst the people.' Mormon Fanny Brewer similarly reported 'much excitement against the Prophet . . . [involving] an unlawful intercourse between himself and a young orphan girl residing in his family and under his protection."
Emma discovered the sexual affair between Smith and Fanny and exploded in anger. Caught with his hand in Fanny's cookie jar, Smith confessed. A noticeably pregnant Fanny eventually was kicked out of the house by Emma, as reported thusly:
“Former Mormon apostle William McLellin later wrote that Emma Smith substantiated the Smith-Alger affair. According to McLellin, Emma was searching for her husband and Alger one evening, when through a crack in the barn door she saw 'him and Fanny in the barn together alone' on the hay mow. McLellin, in a letter to one of Smith's sons, added that the ensuing confrontation between Emma and her husband grew so heated that Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, and Oliver Cowdery had to mediate the situation.
"After Emma related what she had witnessed, Smith, according to McLellin, 'confessed humbly and begged forgiveness. Emma and all forgave him.' While Oliver Cowdery may have forgiven his cousin Joseph Smith, he did not forget the incident. Three years later, when provoked by the prophet, Cowdery countered by calling the Fanny Alger episode 'a dirty, nasty, filthy affair.'
“Chauncey Webb recounts Emma’s later discovery of the relationship: 'Emma was furious, and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house' . . .
“' . . . Webb, Smith's grammar teacher . . . reported that when the pregnancy became evident, Emma Smith drove Fanny from her home. . . . . Webb's daughter, Ann Eliza Webb Young, a divorced wife of Brigham Young, remembered that Fanny was taken into the Webb home on a temporary basis . . . . . Fanny stayed with relatives in nearby Mayfield until about the time Joseph fled Kirtland for Missouri.
“Fanny left Kirtland in September 1836 with her family. Though she married non-Mormon Solomon Custer on 16 November 183614 and was living in Dublin City, Indiana, far from Kirtland, her name still raised eyebrows. Fanny Brewer, a Mormon visitor to Kirtland in 1837, observed 'much excitement against the Prophet . . . [involving] an unlawful intercourse between himself and a young orphan girl residing in his family and under his protection.'”
(Van Wagoner, “Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait in Religious Excess,” p. 291; and Van Wagoner, “Mormon Polygamy: A History,” p. 8; cited in ibid)
*Smith and 19-year-old Zina D. Hunington
Smith further cemented his reputation for fooling around by making moves on a then-married teenager, Zina D. Hunington, who he asked on 25 October 1841 to become another of his multiple wives. Smith informed her (using a line he also employed with Emma and others) that he was ordered to do so by a sword-wielding angel who was threatening to kill him if he disobeyed:
“Already married, 19 year-old Zina remained conflicted with Smith's polygamy proposal 'until a day in October, apparently, when Joseph sent [her older brother] Dimick to her with a message: an angel with a drawn sword had stood over Smith and told him that if he did not establish polygamy, he would lose “his position and his life.” Zina, faced with the responsibility for his position as prophet, and even perhaps his life, finally acquiesced.' They were secretly married within days “
(Todd Compton, “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith,” pp. 80-81, cited in ibid).
*Smith and 19-year-old Nancy Rigdon
Smith also secretly hit on another teenager, 19-year-old Nancy Rigdon, daughter of his close confidant Sidney Rigdon, in Nauvoo on 10 April 1842.
Nancy was not amused:
“ . . . Smith invited Nancy Rigdon, 19-year-old daughter of his close friend and counselor, Sidney Rigdon, to meet him at the home of Orson Hyde. Upon her arrival Smith greeted her, ushered her into a private room, then locked the door. After swearing her to secrecy, wrote George W. Robinson, Smith announced his 'affection for her for several years, and wished that she should be his . . . [T]he Lord was well pleased with this matter . . . [T]here was no sin in it whatever . . . but if she had any scruples of conscience about the matter, he would marry her privately.'
“Incredulous, Nancy countered that 'if she ever got married she would marry a single man or none at all.' Grabbing her bonnet, she ordered the door opened or she would 'raise the neighbors.' She then stormed out of the Hyde-Richards residence.
“The next day, Smith wrote Nancy a letter, where he justified his advances, saying, 'That which is wrong under one circumstance may be, and often is, right under another . . . . Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. . . . even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation.' This is his first written statement of theocratic ethics.”
(“Official History of the Church,” vol. 5, p. 134-36; and Van Wagoner, “Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait in Religious Excess,” p. 295; cited in ibid)
*Smith and 17-year-old Sarah Ann Whitney
Prior to wedding Sarah in Nauvoo on 27 July 1842, Smith conveniently received a “revelation” for the benefit of Sarah and her parents, essentially condoning his adultery in the name of polygamy:
“ . . .Smith received and recorded [this] revelation on polygamy, which remains in LDS church archives. Although recorded in the official 'Revelation Book' of the time, the revelation was not canonized as scripture. In this revelation, the Lord reveals a plural marriage ceremony, which would later be altered and become the sealing ceremony in the temple . . . :
“'Verily, thus saith the Lord, unto my servant Newell K. Whitney, a revelation to Newell K. Whitney, 27 July 1842, and Joseph Smith, Elizabeth Ann Whitney and Sarah Ann Whitney
"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto my servant N[ewell]. K. Whitney, the thing that my servant Joseph Smith has made known unto you and your family [his plural marriage to Sarah Ann Whitney], and which you have agreed upon is right in mine eyes and shall be rewarded upon your heads with honor and immortality and eternal life to all your house both old and young because of the lineage of my priesthood, saith the Lord. It shall be upon you and upon your children after you from generation to generation, by virtue of the holy promise which I now make unto you, saith the Lord.
"'These are the words which you shall pronounce upon my servant Joseph and your daughter Sarah Ann. Whitney. They shall take each other by the hand and you shall say, “You both mutually agree," calling them by name, “to be each other's companion so long as you both shall live, preserving yourselves for each other and from all others and also throughout all eternity, reserving only those rights which have been given to my servant Joseph by revelation and commandment and by legal Authority in times passed.”
“'If you both agree to covenant and do this, then I give you Sarah Ann Whitney, my daughter, to Joseph Smith to be his wife, to observe all the rights between you both that belong to that condition. I do it in my own name and in the name of my wife, your mother, and in the name of my holy progenitors, by the right of birth which is of priesthood, vested in my by revelation and commandment and promise of the living God, obtained by the Holy Melchizedek Jethro and others of the Holy Fathers, commanding in the name of the Lord all those powers to concentrate in you and through to your posterity forever.
“'All these things I do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that through this order he may be glorified and that through the power of anointing David may reign King over Israel, which shall hereafter be revealed. Let immortality and eternal life henceforth be sealed upon your heads forever and ever. Amen."
(original manuscript of “Kirtland Revelation Book,” Church Historical Department, Ms f 490 # 2; “The Historical Record,” vol. 6, p. 222 (1887 edition); and Compton, “In Sacred Loneliness,” p. 348-49; all cited in ibid)
Smith then made secret arrangements to have a sexual rendezvous with Sarah, without Emma finding out. On 19 August 1842, he wrote the following love letter to Sarah, laying out his plans to meet up with her:
“To arrange [a] night liaison with [his] plural wife--Newell K. Whitney's daughter Sarah Ann--Smith writes: ' . . . [T]he only thing to be careful of is to find out when Emma comes, then you cannot be safe but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safety. . . .
“'Only be careful to escape observation, as much as possible. I know it is a heroic undertaking; but so much the greater friendship and the more joy; when I see you I will tell you all my plans. I cannot write them on paper. Burn this letter as soon as you read it; keep [it] all locked up in your breasts, my life depends upon it. . . . .
“I close my letter, I think Emma won't come tonight. If she don't, don't fail to come tonight. I subscribe myself your most obedient, and affectionate, companion and friend. Joseph Smith."
(“Joseph Smith, Jr., to Newell K. Whitney, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, etc.,” 18 August 1842, George Albert Smith Family Papers, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, text and signature of this document in the handwriting of Joseph Smith, Jr.; this document has been reproduced in Dean C. Jessee's “The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith” [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1984], pp. 539-40; and Compton, “In Sacred Loneliness,” pp. 349-350; cited in ibid)
*Smith and 19-year-old Emily Dow Partridge
Smith secretly took Emily as another of his wives in Nauvoo on 4 March 1843, with Elder Heber C. Kimball officiating the ceremony.
Emily later reported in sworn testimony that she had honeymoon sex with Smith the next night:
“Emily D. Partridge Smith testified that she 'roomed' with Joseph the night following her marriage to him and said that she had 'carnal intercourse' with him.
(“Temple Lot” case, complete transcript, pp. 364, 367, 384; Foster, “Religion and Sexuality,” p. 15; Andrew Jenson, ”LDS Biographical Encyclopedia” , vol. 1, p. 697; S. Easton, “Marriages in Nauvoo Region 1839-45;” “Civil Marriages in Nauvoo 1839-45.” Lyndon Cook, “Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register 1845-46; Mormon Manuscripts to 1846;” cited in ibid).
*Smith and 16-year-old Flora Ann Woodworth
Smith married Flora in April 1843 (exact date unknown).
(Elder William Clayton affidavit, in “Historical Record,” vol. 6:, p. 225; cited in ibid)
*Smith and 17-year-old Lucy Walker
Smith married Lucy on 1 May 1843, in the Smith's store, Nauvoo, officiated by William Clayton
(FamilySearch.com record for Joseph Smith, Jr.; cited in ibid)
*Smith and 19-year-old Maria Lawrence
Smith married Maria on 11 May 1843.
(“Historical Record,” vol. 6, p. 223; Lucy Walker Smith Kimball, in “Temple Lot” case, full transcript, p. 461, LDS archives; Helen Kimball Whitney, “Woman's Exponent,” 15 February 1886, p. 138; cited in ibid)
*Smith and 17-year-old Sarah Lawrence
Smith married Sarah the same day he married Sarah Lawrence's sister Maria, 11 May 1843.
(FamilySearch.com record for Joseph Smith Jr., “Historical Record,” vol. 6, p. 223; Lucy Walker Smith Kimball, in “Temple Lot“ case, full transcript, p. 461, LDS archives; Helen Kimball Whitney, “Woman's Exponent," 15 February 1886, p. 138, cited in ibid)
*Smith and 16-year-old Nancy Maria Winchester
Smith married Nancy in Nauvoo on 28 July 1843:
“According to Mormon Church Historian Andrew Jenson, Nancy married Joseph sometime before his death in June of 1844. In addition, Orson Whitney, son of Nancy Maria's friend, Helen, also identified her as Smith's wife. These two witnesses, taken together, make a good case for Nancy as a plural spouse of Joseph. Though there is no exacT date for her marriage to the prophet, the best hypothesis is that the ceremony took place in 1843.”
(Andrew Jenson, “LDS Biographical Encyclopedia” , vol. 1, p. 697; “ Marriages in Nauvoo Region 1839-45;" and Compton, “In Sacred Loneliness,” p. 606; cited in ibid)
*Smith and 19-year-old Melissa Lott
Smith married Melissa in Nauvoo on 20 September 1843, with Hyrum Smith officiating:
“Melissa testified that her marriage to Smith included sex.”
(FamilySearch.com record for Joseph Smith Jr.; and Affidavit of Melissa Willes, 3 August 1893; cited in ibid)
*Smith and 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball
As part of Smith's brimming quiver of teenager brides, in May 1843, in Smith's Nauvoo store, he married an underage 14-year-old female named Helen Mar Kimball. Helen's father, Heber C. Kimball, officiated the wedding of his underage daughter to Smith.
Helen was the youngest of Smith's brides--and according to Helen, he had sex with her.
Helen wrote about how her marriage to Smith was orchestrated by her father:
"Having a great desire to be connected with the Prophet, Joseph, he (my father) offered me to him; this I afterwards learned from the Prophet's own mouth. My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the altar: how cruel this seemed to my mother whose heartstrings were already stretched until they were ready to snap asunder, for she had already taken Sarah Noon to wife and she thought she had made sufficient sacrifice but the Lord required more."
Smith pressured Helen to marry him, giving her only 24 hours to give him answer.
"[My father] left me to reflect upon it for the next 24 hours. . . . I was skeptical--one minute [I] believed, then doubted. I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter and I knew that he would not cast me off, and this was the only convincing proof that I had of its being right.”
The next day, Smith came by to explain to Helen the “Law of Celestial Marriage,” and, having done that, to take her as his latest bride.
Helen described Smith's pitch:
“After which he said to me, 'If you take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation and that of your father's household and all of your kindred.' This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward."
Helen's mother was none too pleased with the marriage, as Helen explains:
"None but God and his angels could see my mother's bleeding heart. When Joseph asked her if she was willing, she replied 'If Helen is willing I have nothing more to say.' She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older and who better understood the step they were taking, and to see her child, who had yet seen her fifteenth summer, following the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come as the sun was to rise and set; but it was hidden from me."
Helen was under the unfortunate misimpression that her marriage to Smith was merely “dynastic.” She was to discover soon enough, however, that it was sexual.
Helen later confessed to a close friend in Nauvoo:
"I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.”
(Helen Mar Whitney journal: Helen Mar autobiography: “Woman's Exponent,” 1880; reprinted in “A Woman's View;” FamilySearch.com record for Joseph Smith, Jr.; and Van Wagoner, “Mormon Polygamy: A History,” p. 53; cited in ibid)
RfM contributor "Deconstruction" on his own website asks---then answers--the question: "Was it normal to marry 14 year-old girls in Joseph Smith's time?"
To set the stage, he first quotes from Smith's Mormon scriptural justification for polygamous sex as a general principle required for Mormon exaltation (the same scriptures, by the way, faithfully cited and espoused by Warren Jeffs, as well):
"And I will bless Joseph Smith and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds."
"And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified."
"But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused [to Joseph Smith], shall be with another man, she has committed adultery and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto Joseph Smith to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified." ("Doctrine and Covenants Section" 132:55, 62-63)
Now, for the evidence that Smith, like Jeffs, had sex with his own underage child victims:
"Many LDS Church leaders and historians suggest that sexual relations and the marriage of Joseph Smith and his youngest wife, Helen Mar Kimball, 14 at the time, was 'approaching eligibility.'
"There is no documentation to support the idea that marriage at fourteen was 'approaching eligibility.' Actually, marriages even two years later, at the age of 16, occurred occasionally but infrequently in Helen Mar's culture. Thus, girls marrying at 14, even 15, were very much out of the ordinary. 16 was comparatively rare but not unheard of. American women began to marry in their late teens; around different parts of the United States the average age of marriage varied from 19 to 23.
"In the United States the average age of menarche (first menstruation) dropped from 16.5 in 1840 to 12.9 in 1950. More recent figures indicate that it now occurs on average at 12.8 years of age. The mean age of first marriages in colonial America was between 19.8 years to 23.7, most women were married during the age period of peak fecundity (fertility).
"Mean pubertal age has declined by some 3.7 years from the 1840’s.
"The psychological sexual maturity of Helen Mar Kimball in today’s average age of menarche (first menstruation) would put her psychological age of sexual maturity at the time of the marriage of Joseph Smith at 9.1 years old. (16.5 years-12.8 years = 3.7 years) (12.8 years-3.7 years = 9.1 years)
"The fact is Helen Mar Kimball's sexual development was still far from complete. Her psychological sexual maturity was not competent for procreation. The coming of puberty is regarded as the termination of childhood; in fact the term 'child' is usually defined as the human being from the time of birth to the on-coming of puberty. Puberty [is] the point of time at which the sexual development is completed. In young women, from the date of the first menstruation to the time at which she has become fitted for marriage, the average lapse of time is assumed by researchers to be two years.
"Age of eligibility for women in Joseph Smith’s time-frame would start at a minimum of 19-and-a-half years old.
"This would suggest that Joseph Smith had sexual relations and married several women before the age of eligibility, and some very close to the age of eligibility including:
"Fanny Alger, 16
"Sarah Ann Whitney, 17
"Lucy Walker, 17
"Flora Ann Woodworth, 16
"Emily Dow Partridge, 19
"Sarah Lawrence, 17
"Maria Lawrence, 19
"Helen Mar Kimball, 14
"Melissa Lott, 19
"Nancy M. Winchester, [14?]
"And then we have these testimonies:
"'Joseph was very free in his talk about his women. He told me one day of a certain girl and remarked that she had given him more pleasure than any girl he had ever enjoyed. I told him it was horrible to talk like this.' (Joseph Smith's close confidant and LDS Church First Councilor, William Law, interview in 'Salt Lake Tribune,' 31 July 1887)
"'When Heber C. Kimball asked Sister Eliza R. Snow the question if she was not a virgin although married to Joseph Smith, she replied, "I thought you knew Joseph Smith better than that."'
(Stake President Angus M. Cannon, statement of interview with Joseph III, 23, LDS archives)"
"Short Bios of Smith's wives:
"Did Smith have sex with his wives?:
"Whatever the average age of menarche might have been in the mid-19th-century, the average age of marriage was around 20 for women and 22 for men. And a gap of 15 to 20 years or more between partners was very unusual, not typical. Whatever biology might have to say, according to the morals of his time, several of Joseph Smith's wives were still inappropriately young for him.
"It is a pure myth that 19th-century American girls married at age 12-14.
"For example, Laura Ingalls Wilder, from 'Little House on the Prairie' fame, was born in 1867, which puts her later than Joseph Smith but still in the 1800s. She tells of hearing of the marriage of a 13-year-old girl, and being shocked. She also notes that the girl's mother 'takes in laundry' and is sloppy and unkempt--implying that "nice" people don't marry off their teenaged daughters. Laura herself became engaged at 17--but her parents asked her to wait until she was 18 to marry.
"You merely need to go to your local courthouse and ask to see the old 19th century marriage books. Take a look at and pay attention to the age at marriage. Sure, a very few did but it was far from the norm. The vast majority of women married after the age of 20.
"In fact, look up the marriage ages in the Smith family before polygamy. You'll find that one of the Smith girls was 19. The rest of them, and their sisters-in-law, were in their early 20s when they married. The Smith boys' first wives were in their 20s. The same pattern was true for . . . the rest of American society at the time.
"On the extremely rare occasions women younger than 17 married, it was to men close to their same age, not 15 to 20 years older.
"The case is even true in pioneer Utah among first marriages. Mormon men in their 20s started out marrying someone their own age. Then later, these older men married girls under 20 to be their plural wives. But the first wives were the age of the husband and married over the age of 20. This is still the case is the rural Utah polygamist communities.
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